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Churches are closed but not Christ’s life-giving waters, Archbishop Coleridge says

Archbishop Mark Coleridge presiding Mass inside a closed St Stephen's Cathedral
New normal: Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge celebrates Mass inside a closed St Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane. Daily masses are being live-streamed from the cathedral. The Federal Government has suspended all non-essential gatherings to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and to ensure social distancing. The rules came in to force on 23 March.

BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has spoken powerfully of the life-giving water of faith even in a disease-ridden world, during a live-streamed Mass from inside the city’s near-empty St Stephen’s Cathedral.

Churches across the Brisbane archdiocese, like those across the country, are now closed in line with new restrictions to reduce the spread of coronavirus. 

“The churches might be closed but the sacrifice of Christ never ceases to flow into our life and into the world,” Archbishop Coleridge said, beginning morning Mass streamed live on the Archdiocese of Brisbane website.

During his homily, Archbishop Coleridge drew on the Old Testament reading (Ezekiel 47:1-9,12) and the Gospel (John 5:1-3,5-16) to describe the river of faith created by God, and its transformative powers, even in the face of a crisis such as the one created by the spread of the coronavirus.

“In one of the great passages of the Old Testament we hear this morning of the stream that becomes a great river flowing from the side of the temple,” he said.

“It flows in fact from the Holy of Holies which was the very heart of the Jewish temple, and this river which begins as a tiny stream becomes a mighty flood and it flows eastward from the temple down through the Judean Desert and eventually it hits the Dead Sea and wherever it goes that river turns death to life the desert becomes a garden the Dead Sea teams with life. 

“But in fact you see this river comes from the Holy of Holies that place which only the high priest could enter and only he on one day of the year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

“So the Holy of Holies was like a locked church, like this Cathedral at the moment, and like all the parish churches of this diocese, but still the river flows from the side of the temple because, you see, the Mass is celebrated and therefore the flood flows from the new temple which is the body of the risen and crucified and risen Christ, He whose side is pierced and from that pierced side there flows the river into every corner of human darkness and suffering, even coronavirus.

“So the river still flows brothers and sisters, nothing can stop – that we can close the churches, we can say that the Holy of Holies ended only by the high priest or the Archbishop on one day of the year but nothing can stop the river that flows from the body of Christ which is the new temple.

“And that river flows now into whatever desolation or experience of being disheartened, even depressed, might be yours.

“Into all of that and into a disease-ridden world the river flows and turns the desert into a garden that teams not with death  but which teams with life.”

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